Lu’an Gua Pian (Melon Seed Tea), Chinese 六安瓜片, also known as Lu’an Leaf, is a green tea originating from Lu’an City in Anhui Province, China. It is considered one of the most famous green teas in China and is listed on virtually all lists of famous Chinese teas. The tea gets its name from the shape of the processed tea leaves, which are flat and oval and resemble a melon seed.
Origins and Processing
Unlike most green teas that use new buds in making tea, Lu’an Melon Seed Tea uses the second leaf on the branch. The central vein is removed from each leaf, and the leaves are pan-fried and shaped to stop oxidizing enzymes and dry the tea. This process results in a tea with a unique taste compared to other green teas in China.
According to historical texts, Lu’an Melon Seed Tea was first recorded in The Classic of Tea, the first book about general tea knowledge, written by Lu Yu (733–804 CE) during the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE). Lu’an Melon Seed Tea was also widely used during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) to prevent sunstroke by the Chinese. The tea was also enjoyed by the Guangxu Emperor (r. 1878–1908) and Empress Dowager Cixi (r. 1861–1908), who considered it a gong cha (“tribute tea”) to the imperial family during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Additionally, Lu’an Melon Seed Tea was mentioned about 80 times by the writer Cao Xueqin (1715–1763) in his novel Dream of the Red Chamber.
Brewing and Flavor
Glassware or porcelain gaiwans are ideal for preparing Lu’an Melon Seed Tea since it doesn’t require high temperatures (80°C / 175°F) for preparation. The tea leaves unfurl as you brew, and about 6-8 grams of tea can be applied to enjoy up to 12 brews. It’s appropriate to start with a steeping time of about 20 seconds, which you can slowly increase after the 3rd brew. If you don’t have a small tea vessel, you can use the following Western brewing guide: apply 3g of Lu’an Melon Seed tea leaves into the teapot (or large mug), add hot water, and brew for about 4 minutes. Lu’an Melon Seed Tea can generally be brewed up to 3 times in large mugs or teapots.
Drinking Lu’an Melon Seed Tea and other Chinese green teas help reduce the risk of cancer. The antioxidant in green tea is 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 24 times better than vitamin E. It helps your body protect cells from damage, which is linked to cancer. In addition, it helps prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering the level of cholesterol. Even after a heart attack, it prevents cell deaths and speeds up the recovery of heart cells.
In conclusion, Lu’an Melon Seed Tea is a unique green tea that has been highly praised by tea connoisseurs throughout history. Its distinct processing and brewing methods produce a taste that sets it apart from other green teas in China. The tea’s rich history, health benefits, and delicate flavor make it a must-try for any tea lover.